A hot rental market and lack of inventory have prompted developer Ron Semans to pursue new apartments and live-work space in Downtown Sanford.
The Wilson Center LLC and Suncor Properties principal showed GrowthSpotter plans on Wednesday for 96 apartment units and 14,000 square feet of live/work space (seven units), to be located on the northwest corner of 1st Street and Oak Avenue. The 2-acre property is currently vacant after SunTrust Bank razed a 1960s-era building and rebuilt a smaller modern structure.
Three-story apartments would front Oak Avenue on the east and a private road on the west. The Oak Avenue side would feature an urban-style design with two-bedroom apartments on the first floor, and one- and two-bedroom units on the upper floors. The west side of the project would be designed as garden-style apartments.
"We think baby boomers will prefer the first floor units, while singles and young couples will choose the upper floors," said Semans.
He said the two-story live/work space will front 1st Street, and is tentatively planned to be sold in 2,000-square-foot units. The living space would on the second floor, with office or retail on the first floor.
"We've already had interest from a couple of artists who want to live above their studios," said Semans. "We think that would be an ideal type of use for this project."
The proposed plans have yet to be submitted to the City of Sanford planning department. Semans is planning an aggressive timeline, and expects to break ground in the first quarter of 2017.
The project will be financed with a combination of private equity and traditional bank loans. Semans said he has not secured bank financing, and is searching for a property management company with apartment experience.
His firm expects to manage the construction phase.
The engineering will be provided by CPH Engineers Inc. Two architectural firms, which Semans declined to identify, are being interviewed.
Semans said demand for apartments in Downtown Sanford has risen in recent years. He noted that there has been no new construction in the district in more than eight years.
Semans' project comes as the city is finalizing plans with Sanford Waterfront Partners LLC to build apartments, retail and office space on 5.5 acres of city-owned land three blocks to the east. Venny Torre, a principal with Sanford Waterfront Partners, said he also expects to break ground in early 2017.